Councillor challenges ‘Albert Hall’ cost of new sound system

Essential repair work on Elgin Town Hall costing £1.25million caused a minor row at Moray Council on Wednesday when it was revealed that it included £126,000 for a new sound and light system.

Councillors agreed the repair and maintenance upgrades last month when it was agreed that a replacement for the 1960’s building was not an option at this time and rejected proposals to pull it down altogether.

However, at the children and young people’s services committee this week details of the cost breakdown revealed the bill for a new sound and light system – and that sparked astonishment with some councillors who questioned if it was actually required.

With any professional groups using their own sound and light in the hall, the new system would only be used for the benefit of amateur groups hiring the facility – and that prompted Councillor Eric McGillvray – who was responsible for commissioning the existing system – to challenge the need for a replacement.

He said: “What are we talking about here? Elgin Town Hall or the Albert Hall? To spend £126,000 at a time of austerity is simply not right.”

Keith Councillor Garry Coull agreed, saying: “It was agreed that we only spend what is necessary for essential repairs – how is this essential?”

The council officer responsible for culture and sport, Graham Jarvis, insisted however that the new system was a necessary expense, saying: “The town hall if falling apart at the seams – the system is not fit for purpose. We consider these upgrades to be essential.”

In October SNP Councillor Patsy Gowans labelled the £1.25million refurbishment as a waste of funds on a “bad asset”.

The Elgin City North councillor said the building had “had its day”, adding: “It is the people of Moray that have to find the money to keep old buildings going – we can’t have a capital asset that is costing us a fortune.”

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